Various Artists - Raiz Iberica [Ahnstern - 2014]Raiz Iberica is a 2014 release of various artists from Spain and Portugal. Each of the bands here has deep connections with their roots and history. It’s sort of an introduction to Iberian folk music. Together they have initiated us to the history, myths and legends of the Iberian Peninsula.
Songs here range from the richly melodic, as on “Soterrados Baixo As Pedras” by Sangre De Muerdago, to the lilting delicate vocals of “Os Voitres Oscurecen O Ceo” by Cosmos. Bits of ambient sounds are intertwined with traditional instruments on “Alvorada De Montesinho” by Urze De Lume, “Largas Noches” by Caelia and “La Estantiga” by The Wyrm. Field recordings give us sounds of the country side on “Yo Soy La Cumbre” as it begins with animal sounds and guitars strumming and ending with the echoes of chanting. “Sangue Dos Deuses” by Azagatel starts with the sound of rushing water then builds to an epic atmosphere of bells, percussion, guitars and emotive vocals.
Some of the most captivating songs here are the ones with the least amount of instrumentation. Keltika Hispanna gets high marks on “Trikantam Entor-Kue Toutam” with its mix of percussion, flutes and what the ears can make out, black metal-ish raspy vocals. All together it is successful in invoking the arcane legends of the land. “il Canto De La Calandria” by Rita Wihinei is a rousing spoken word piece punctuated by martial tinged percussion and strong guitars. “Cuerno Roto” by Arnica awakens our ears with flute and guitar melody. “Petreo Famejo” by Arde Fero also hits the nail on the head with rhythmic chanting and bouncy flutes. It all ends with Angel Roman on “Canto Ritual En Tarteso”, tambourine, percussion and bells set the stage for a female vocal which is in turn answered by male voices. There is something so primal, mystical and ritualistic about this song it’s a bit sad when it ends. You feel like you are ringside at an ancient ritual with the high priestess calling her followers.
All told, it is a wonderful introduction to Iberian folk. It takes a bit of digging, and a little bit of Google translator, but there is a treasure trove of Spanish and Portuguese artists who are lovingly preserving their history and myths. Raiz Iberica is a great starting point for anyone who is a fan of traditional folk to ambient.Viktorya Kaufholz